Stars twinkling above the Rose City of Petra. Crumbling Roman Ruins of Jerash. Sunrise over the Dead Sea… Jordan is a magical place, full of history and culture, and very welcoming to visitors – those who are willing to look past headlines and stereotypes to explore this endlessly fascinating Middle Eastern country.
I fell in love with Jordan and its many wonders during my first trip back in 2016, since then I’ve been dying to get back – and am just now finalizing my own itinerary for 8 days in Jordan (I’ll be there in March 2022!). Eight days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Jordan because it gives you enough to see each area of the country and each famous destination, but also to explore lesser-known spots that others might miss on shorter itineraries.
If you have eight days to spend in Jordan, you’re in luck. After reading this post you’ll have a good idea of how to spend that time seeing the sights, exploring the culture, and hopefully falling in love with Jordan too.
8 Days in Jordan Itinerary (Quick Glance)
I find that before jumping into the details of my suggested 8-day Jordan itinerary, it’s helpful to get a high-level overview. Below you’ll find a table that covers the destinations I recommend visiting each day; if this looks good to you, you can read on to get more details and suggestions for each place and how to travel between them.
|2||Jerash & Ajloun|
|3||Madaba, Mount Nebo & the Dead Sea|
|4||Wadi Mujib & Aqaba|
|5||Aqaba & Wadi Rum|
|6||Wadi Rum & Petra|
|8||Petra & Amman|
Ready to continue with my suggested itinerary for 8 days in Jordan? Read on!
Day 1: Amman
Your first of 8 days in Jordan is all about sightseeing. The Jordanian capital is home to a diversity of attractions, so you’ll experience a bit of everything.
Your first stop will be The Citadel, an archaeological site concentrating Roman ruins. The Citadel is only a 15-minute drive from downtown and sits atop Jabal Al Qala’a, a hill that rises 850 meters above sea level. Here you can get a close view of Jordan’s Roman past. The Temple of Hercules is the site’s most significant landmark. The Romans built it when Geminius Marcianus was governor of the Province of Arabia (AD 162–166), and today, you can still see a few of the temple’s mighty columns. Not far from it is Umayyad Palace, a building complex built between the 7th and 8th Centuries. You can still appreciate the beauty and importance of this ancient fortification, its water cisterns, and caves where ancient people lived.
The Citadel also houses a Byzantine Church from the 6th Century; while all that remains today are pillars, the floor plan, and some mosaics, the ruins are a treat to watch. Finally, you can visit the Jordan Archaeological Museum, which has a collection of artifacts from a period of over 50,000 years.
By the way, given The Citadel sits on top of the highest hill in downtown Amman, you’ll enjoy a fascinating panoramic view of the capital city.
After touring The Citadel, you’ll head to Al Balad, Downtown Amman, an old, central commercial area. It’s worth taking a visit to the downtown area to experience the more authentic part of Amman. This pocket of the city is bustling, and you’ll find tons of shops, souks, restaurants, and mosques. Since the area is rife with food stalls and restaurants, find a good option to have dinner before calling it a day.
Day 2: Jerash & Ajloun
Day two of your eight-day Jordan itinerary will also include visiting Roman ruins. You don’t need to wake up extremely early as the destinations are relatively close to Amman.
After breakfast, you’ll embark on a 50-minute drive to the town of Jerash. The lovely northern city is also home to one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman ruins in the Middle East and has many sites to explore, like Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Artemis. You’ll need 2-3 hours to explore the whole site, and you can choose to visit on your own or book one of the Jordanians who charge a fee to show you around.
Once you’ve finished exploring Jerash, find a spot to have lunch and then get ready to reach your next destination: Ajloun, a hilly town in the north of Jordan. The ride takes only 30 minutes and will leave you with plenty of time to visit the site. The most famous landmark here is Ajloun Castle. The Ayyubids built it in 1184 AD to defend the city from the Crusaders. It has plenty of rooms you can explore, and it also has a museum displaying interesting artifacts from diverse periods of Jordan’s history.
You’ll make your way back to Amman from Ajloun Castle. The drive to the capital takes about 90 minutes. Back in Amman, you’ll still have spare time to explore the city and its wonders.
Day 3: Madaba, Mount Nebo & the Dead Sea
It’s time to leave the capital city and explore other wonders Jordan offers. From here onwards, the rest of your eight days in Jordan will be more hectic. So expect jam-packed days and lots of road trips.
On day three, you’ll rise early, grab breakfast at your hotel, and make for Madaba. The ancient town is south of Amman to Madaba and will take you a 40-minute drive to reach it.
Madaba is famous for housing a collection of Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics. The most notorious mosaic is the 6th-century Madaba Mosaic Map of the Holy Land in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. The map depicts part of the Middle East and contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem.
Next up is Mount Nebo. It’s only 15 minutes away from Madaba, and it’s the perfect place to explore Jordan’s religious history.
Mount Nebo is of vital importance for Judaism and Christianity. According to the Old Testament, Moses saw the Promised Land (Israel) from Mount Nebo, and it was also where God buried Moses according to the Christian tradition. Also, Mount Nebo is one of the best viewpoints in Jordan. The site provides panoramic views of Israel and Jericho across the valley and even Jerusalem on very clear days if the weather allows it.
You’ll want to leave Mount Nebo at around noon. So you can have enough time to spend the rest of the day at your next destination, the Dead Sea. The drive to the Dead Sea is 30-40 minutes long, depending on where your resort is. Once you arrive, find your resort and check in. You’ll arrive just in time to have lunch and then have the afternoon free to enjoy the salty waters of the Dead Sea.
Most resorts are on the fancy side. While I suggest you spend most of the time on the Dead Sea; you can also explore your hotel’s spa or pool. In the end, it’s all about you having a pleasant time.
Day 4: Wadi Mujib & Aqaba
As we approach the halfway point of this eight-day Jordan itinerary, there’s still a lot to cover; day 4 is a busy day! Not only because you’re visiting many spots, but because there’s a lot of driving. So, pack your bags the night before and be ready to leave first thing in the morning. Your first stop is the fascinating Wadi Mujib. The drive is only one hour and thirty minutes. However, since you’ll be coming from Wadi Mujib to Aqaba on the same day, you want to leave from the Dead Sea early to have as much time as possible in Wadi Mujib.
Wadi Mujib is one of Jordan’s natural wonders. Arrive at the visitor center, put on your life jacket, and venture into the cool waters of the river for an unforgettable canyoning experience. The Wadi Mujib biosphere reserve offers several trails for travelers. Since you’ll only spend 2-3 hours in Wadi Mujib, make sure you choose a hike that leaves you enough time to have lunch and then make your way to Aqaba, Jordan’s only port city.
The drive to Aqaba is one of the longest of your Jordan itinerary for 8 days. It takes almost four hours, depending on the traffic and route you choose–which is why you want to leave for Wadi Rum as soon as you finish lunch.
Once you arrive in Aqaba, check in at your hotel and head out to the beach. Aqaba sits on the Red Sea and has many public, and private beach options available. Also, if the day is too hot, you can pay a visit to the Aqaba Archaeological Museum. After a long day, find a nice spot to have dinner and return to your hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Day 5: Aqaba & Wadi Rum
Luckily, you won’t have to get up so early on Day 5. So, take your time to check-in and enjoy a rich breakfast at your hotel. Then, head out for one last look at the picturesque city. You’ll leave for Wadi Rum after having lunch in Aqaba. The journey is a short one-hour drive, and you’ll arrive at Wadi Rum just in time for an adrenaline-filled experience.
As soon as you arrive in Wadi Rum, find your camp and check in. All camps offer several tours for guests. You’ll want to ask for their Wadi Rum jeep/sunset tour, which takes you deep into the desert to explore its Martian landscape. Your guide will be a Bedouin who knows the desert like the back of his hand and will take you to explore some of the most famous rock formations and hidden nooks of Wadi Rum. To top it all, he’ll find a perfect spot where you’ll enjoy an unforgettable sunset.
Back at your Wadi Rum camp, your hosts will be waiting for you with a delicious traditional Bedouin Zarb dinner. I know you’re tired, but don’t leave so fast! Many camps invite their guests to do a little stargazing after dinner. So, grab a cup of tea from the common room, find a cozy spot outside, and witness the magic of a pitch-dark sky with thousands of dazzling stars.
Day 6: Wadi Rum & Petra
On day six, you’ll wake up before sunrise to take a camel ride out into the Wadi Rum desert and watch the sunrise. The Wadi Rum sunrise tour is highly popular, and most camps offer it for their guests. It only takes 60-90 minutes, giving you enough time to grab breakfast and head to Petra.
Getting from Wadi Rum to Petra takes around two hours. You’ll notice I’ve devoted (almost) three of your 8 days in Jordan to Petra. This is because Petra isn’t a place you can fully explore in a day. I always hear travelers complain because they didn’t stay long on this fantastic site, and I don’t want you to be one of them.
You’ll arrive at Petra in the morning. So, check-in at your hotel and take your time to recover after a long morning.
In the afternoon, head to the Visitor Center. You’ll want to purchase your Petra-by-Night ticket and pick up a Petra map. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the most iconic sights of Petra. So, I suggest you also buy a one-day ticket at the Visitor Center.
Today, you’ll do part of The Main Trail, the easiest and shortest hiking trip in Petra. This trail takes you to all the must-see sites in Petra: the Siq, Treasury, Street of Facades, Roman theater, Royal Tombs, and Great Temple. Chances are, this trail will be a sea of people. Take your time to explore the area and take a few pictures.
At 8:15, you want to go back to the Petra visitor center to start the Petra-by-Night. Here, you’ll get to witness the beauty of the Treasure under the moon and stars. The experience lasts two hours; guides take you through a candle-lit Siq until you reach the magnificent Treasury. Your guide will invite you to find a cozy spot to sit and listen to stories about the Nabatean people and their kingdom.
After Petra-by-Night, it’s time to call it a day. Head back to your hotel and prepare for a day full of Petra fun.
Day 7: Petra
Day seven is all about Petra. You have the whole day to explore every nook of the Nabataean kingdom. Yesterday you already did the Main Trail, but the site has over seven trails that take you to less popular sights. Beware, though; some require an adventurous spirit and a good fitness level.
Depending on your interests and energy, you can fit two hiking trails on day 7. Here are a few of my suggestions:
- The Main Trail to Ad Deir (Monastery): it takes you to The Monastery, Petra’s second most beautiful wonder. While this hike takes only one hour, it includes climbing up 800 steps to get to this architectural wonder.
- The Sabra Trail: perfect for travelers who want a less touristic route. You’ll see many un-excavated tombs and houses, Roman theater ruins, a Nabatean sanctuary, and petroglyphs carved on walls.
- The High Place of Sacrifice Trail: an alternative for experienced hikers. The beginning is all stairs, and you get to explore the Tomb of Unayshu plus other Nabataean buildings.
There are many more hikes you can choose from. Some hikes require a guide, so make sure to stop at the Visitor Center to ask and arrange a guide if needed.
After you’ve explored the Nabatean Kingdom, head back to your hotel, take a reinvigorating shower, and go out for dinner. For tonight, I recommend you try to arrange dinner with a local family through A Piece of Jordan. It is an incredible opportunity to share time with the local people and learn more about them.
Day 8: Petra & Amman
Today, you’ll get up early, pack your things, check out of your hotel, and grab breakfast. What time you decide to head for Amman depends on when your flight departs.
Most flights leave mid to late afternoon, and the drive back to Amman takes three hours. Add to this estimated time a few delays due to traffic jams and the two hours before scheduled departure at the airport.
Once you arrive at Amman, you can find a good spot to have lunch in the city or go directly to the airport and grab lunch there. Then it’s time for the long flight home, with a head and heart full of memories about your incredible 8 days in Jordan.
Do you have any questions about this 8-day Jordan itinerary? Let me know in the comments, or join my Jordan Travel Tips Facebook community.